Disclaimer: I do not own Card Captors.


"Yo, Yamazaki!"

No answer.

"Yamazaki! Hey!"

No answer.

"Ta-ka-shi Ya-ma-za-ki!"

Still no answer.

Sakura looked at the dark-haired boy, dubious concern reflecting in her green eyes. Is he sleeping with his eyes open again? She wondered. The said dark-haired boy was standing in the middle of the classroom, completely and utterly oblivious of the chattering students filing into the previously empty room. His dark brown eyes were open (for once) but not for overflowing emotions. They were blank, devoid of any sort of feeling, and stared unknowingly at some distant location.

It was very strange seeing the normally bright and smiling Yamazaki not being so... bright and smiling. There was something very strange going on.

Kei Inasu, the auburn-haired class president with his oh-so-cool earring, raised an eyebrow and waved a hand before the spaced-out guy, but quickly pulled away when Naoko made a slapping motion at it. She ignored his annoyed scowl and snapped, "Leave him alone! Can't you see he's not feeling well?"

Indeed, he looked rather sick. His normally healthy skin had a flushed tint that suggested he might be feeling warmer than usual.

Sakura frowned slightly and said, "Maybe we should take him to the nurse's office?"

Yamazaki began swaying slightly.

Syaoran had been keeping silent while gazing narrowly at the dazed boy. But now he stepped briskly before his friend until he was staring eye to eye. There was a brief moment as he looked intently into those blank eyes. Then, with his index finger, he gave an experimental poke on the boy's forehead.

THUD.

Yamazaki fell like a log.

"Yamazaki!"

"Too late. He's out."


Persuasion

By xxkoffeexx


It began the day her mother came back from her cousin's daughter's friend's wedding.

She remembered it so clearly like it was yesterday. Her mother was gushing about the bride's gown and how gorgeous it was, about how beautiful the bride was, how handsome the groom looked, how wonderful the ceremony was, and oh how she remembered when she got married to Chiharu's father... and so on and so forth. Chiharu was used to hearing her mother talk on and on about those sort of things, so she began nodding off. Then, just as she was about to conk out, her mother suddenly turned to her and asked, "You and Yamazaki are engaged... have you two kissed yet?"

Chiharu promptly choked and turned red.

"Wh-what?"

Her mother blinked and gave her a slightly surprised look. "You haven't kissed yet?"

She was starting to blush. "N-No!"

"What about hugs? You two have hugged, right?"

She blinked. "Yes." Because I always hugged him first.

"And holding hands?"

"Um, sometimes?" When I make him.

Her mother tapped her chin with a thoughtful 'hmm'. She looked at her daughter speculatively. "And you two haven't kissed yet?"

Another blush. "No!"

"You have or you haven't?"

"We HAVEN'T!"

Her mother raised her eyebrows. "No need to yell, dear. I understand perfectly well if you're insecure about telling me these things. However as your mother I wish you could be more comfortable talking to me about... relationships. More specifically Yamazaki, since he is your fiancé and all. I will do my best to listen to whatever you have to say, just as long as I can help you." She smiled warmly and said, "If you'd like, I can give you some advice on how to make out with—"

She was out of the room before her mother could say another word. The horror of sitting through another one of her mother's "talks" made her want to lock herself in her room and never come out until it was safe. In fact, she did lock herself into her room and didn't come out until it was dinnertime.

Unfortunately, during the time she was locked in her room, the question snuck into her mind and stuck to her like super glue until she was forced to ask herself.

Have we... kissed yet?

The question kept repeating itself over and over in her head until she couldn't think about anything else but the stupid question. And it bothered her even more that she couldn't seem to figure out why it was bugging her so much.

...Why... haven't we?

From that moment on she realized she was doomed to be plagued by sleepless nights and daydreams until she could find the answer.

And so it began.


"Yamazaki!"

At the sound of her familiar voice he turned from his computer and flashed her his ever-present Yamazaki Smile. He waved and greeted back, "Hey Chiharu!"

She smiled at him as he turned back to his computer. He was always so cheerful. Even when the day was lousy and the weather was crappy and bad mood was pervading the air like pollen in spring Yamazaki would always have a smile on his face that would cheer up everybody around him. It was something one almost expected to see when they saw him. It was one of the things that made him... well, him.

And one of the many things she liked about him.

With a slight smile she made her way towards him and sat down, looking at what he was working on. Being on the computer club, Yamazaki was always in the computer lab after school working on different programs and learning the whole set-up of the computer system. She always wondered what he found so fascinating in computers (because she was not a computer-whiz and unlike most people did not spend hours clicking away on the computer after school) and often tried to watch him work.

Every time she did she always ended up either a) falling asleep or b) ...falling dead asleep.

And every time she ended up falling (dead) asleep he would place her in a more comfortable position, place his jacket over her, and let her sleep until it was time to go.

She never really reflected on how thoughtful these actions were. Partly because she thought, well, since they were engaged it was only reasonable that he make sure she was comfortable while waiting for him to finish working. But mostly because, frankly, she was used to it.

They were so used to each other that they seemed to know exactly what was going on with one another. It was so perfectly convenient that she often used to wonder if maybe they were meant to be together.

Now she wondered if maybe they had gotten too used to each other.

It would make sense, she thought to herself. Her eyes watched the dark-haired boy as he continued clicking away on the computer, completely engrossed in whatever he was doing. He probably didn't even know she was staring at him instead of the screen like she had been previously. He's probably so used to me that... that he never even thought about doing... that. Kissing. She suddenly felt her stomach sinking with doubt. Was that true? Was that it? Was that the reason... why Yamazaki never kissed her? He was so used to her... it was possible that he was... even bored of her.

She blinked and sat up straight at that thought. Was Yamazaki feeling bored every time she came to visit him here after school? Was he pretending to actually like being with her? The questions came flying into her mind one after another until her heart tightened with anxiety. She couldn't stand the thought of Yamazaki being bored of her... so tired of her being near him.

Of not wanting to spend time with her.

Biting her lip, she turned to look at him again. He was peering at the screen, typing away with fast, swift strokes that filled the air with a calm, rhythmic pattern. But she was not calmed by the sound of him typing like it usually did. She was looking for any sign on his face in those hardly-open eyes that indicated that he was bored. Was he hiding some emotion that she didn't know about? She leaned a little closer to scrutinize him more avidly.

She didn't know her chair had been already facing an odd angle, so when she leaned to the side, she immediately began slipping off the plastic chair. Too late, she realized she was going to fall on her bottom in a matter of milliseconds.

It was just her luck that Yamazaki was athletic as well as a computer geek because he caught her before she could fall in that undignified manner.

(Her hero)

Surprised, and a little bit embarrassed, she looked up to see if he was annoyed at her for interrupting his work.

And was abruptly caught off guard by the slight twinkle in his dark eyes and the genuine smile on his (rather handsome) face. She was too surprised to even blush like she always did whenever he had that expression on his face.

He gently helped her back into her seat and commented, "You were staring at me so much that you almost fell off your seat, Chiharu." This time she did blush, but only because she was embarrassed. He knew! He knew she was staring at him. Even though he hadn't even glanced at her once he somehow knew she had been staring at him. Or maybe she was just that obvious. He grinned at her. "Am I really that handsome?" he asked, placing a hand on his chin in a 'pondering' pose.

She blushed only slightly more (though her heart pounded a bit because yes, she really thought he was that handsome) and smacked his arm lightly. "Whatever. You can be so modest, you know that?" She rolled her eyes as he pretended to brush off her compliment.

However he persisted, "But you were staring at me. Why was that?" His grin still there but his eyes were serious. She wanted to groan. He just had to ask that, didn't he? And he really seemed intent on knowing. Whenever he had that serious look in his eyes it meant he would go through whatever means possible to find or get what he wanted. But she wasn't going to tell him anything. It was too... too... Heck, why was she even staring at him?

Ah. Now she remembered. But just now, when they had joked with each other he didn't look or sound like he was bored. In fact, he seemed like he was enjoying himself. Even now he had that calm, content air about him that definitely didn't have any signs of annoyance or boredom.

Suddenly, she blinked and saw Yamazaki's dark brown eyes staring right in front of her. They were a little... close.

"Y – Yamazaki—" She leaned back a little, then stopped.

His eyes... They were such a dark, warm brown that she felt like melting in his gaze. (she was melting) They were so close she couldn't see anything else but them. Her heart seemed to stop and the whole world faded away until it was only those eyes. Her eyes widened a little as she saw him drawing closer to her.

Yamazaki, she wanted to say. Yamazaki... I... I want to—

And then... he grinned the Yamazaki Grin.

The spell broke. She blinked. What just happened?

"You were staring again," came the answer inadvertently. The playful look was back in his eyes, and she realized she had been holding her breath. What for, she didn't know. All at once, her heart seemed to be beating again, and her cheeks were growing warm as the comprehension of the events finally hit her. What in the world had she been thinking? Why had she suddenly frozen like that, as if waiting for something to happen? And what was she waiting for?

She suddenly knew.

She was waiting for him to kiss her.

...Yes.

Yes, that was exactly what she'd been thinking. And there was no use denying it! No. She wanted him to kiss her. It was that simple. Suddenly the world seemed a lot clearer than before. She felt like prancing and singing "I See Clearly Now" on top of her lungs. But most of all, she wanted to kiss him.

(Uh...)

"Eh, Chiharu, you're acting a little strange today," he commented, looking at her with slight worry. She felt a warm thrill go down her spine at his concern for her. "I'll be done in about five minutes. What do you say we go out for some ice cream after?" He smiled at her inquiringly.

She had to stop herself from wrapping her arms around him. "Yes," she answered happily with a smile. Because she knew what she wanted now.

I want to kiss him.

She was thankful he didn't notice the blush on her cheeks.


Now that she knew what the answer to her frustration was, and what she wanted, she decided all they had to do was go for it and kiss. She was sure that once they initiated that first act of love, things would progress smoothly from there. She was so engrossed in the idea of them finally kissing like a real boyfriend and girlfriend that she didn't think even for a second what "progress smoothly from there" implied.

It wasn't until she and Yamazaki were sitting across from each other eating ice cream that she realized just how difficult the first step was going to be.

Yamazaki, she'd long since discovered, was quite the gentleman. He wasn't the open type of gentleman who reeked of chivalry, like Eriol Hiiragizawa, nor did he have that shy politeness that Syaoran Li possessed. No, he wasn't any of those. Instead he had a sort of quiet, respectful air about him whenever he was with a girl (or anyone, for that matter), and he never failed to smile. His smile and air of quiet ease made others comfortable around him. It was a kind of gentlemanly act that she thought was an important part of him. (A part of him that she admired a lot)

Yet, now she realized it also had its faults. Especially when concerning the issue of kissing. Because he was too respectful, he never made any moves that he considered disrespectful to any girl (or anyone). Which was, really, just about everything. He never held her hand unless she grabbed his hand first, and he never hugged her unless it was to hug her back. She was always the one to make the move first. It struck her as funny because she always thought it was the guy who initiated, not the other way around. Though that thought might be a little cliché. But still. She had a romantic part of her, and she didn't really agree with the idea of her always starting the first move. It was too… wrong. It didn't feel right.

She wasn't complaining or feeling disgruntled that they never kissed, because she knew their relationship was perfectly fine without it. She was content to wait until he thought it was the right time to do it (though who knows when that might be). However, she couldn't think of any reason why not to kiss. After all, they were engaged. It was right that she should want to kiss.

And... well, a part of her (a very small part, mind you) was curious as to how it would feel like. Would it be just like those cheesy romance books that describe a single kiss for more than a page? Or would it be... average? Her heart thumped a little as she thought about drawing close to the black-haired guy and tilting her head up at just the right angle so her lips could meet—

Anyways. Yamazaki wasn't the type who would actually kiss her without prompting.

Well then, she would just have to prompt him, wouldn't she?

"Hey, Chiharu." She blinked out of her thoughts and her eyes met dark brown eyes staring steadily across from her. "Ahh," he said, motioning for her to open her mouth. Her jaw dropped automatically, just as a plastic spoonful of strawberry ice cream made its way into her open mouth. She blinked rapidly in surprise. "Now eat," he commanded, not moving his eyes from hers. She immediately began consuming the spoonful of ice cream, still rather at a loss at what had just happened. She swallowed the melted ice cream and then raised her eyebrows at him. He was grinning with slight triumph, though the serious light hadn't gone from his eyes. She wondered briefly what was wrong. Yamazaki was almost never worried about anything, and all the sudden he was being serious not once, but twice today. Certainly if he was concerned it was something quite important.

He tilted his head a little, the grin gone. "Chiharu," he said in a voice that had no hint of light humor, "I think you should tell me what's wrong."

She blinked. And then blinked again. "What? Nothing," she stated a little dumbly. What was he talking about?

He merely lifted an eyebrow (which Chiharu would have found comical, but now wasn't the time) and said in a no-nonsense tone, "You haven't touched your ice cream at all yet you've been staring at it for the past five minutes. You've been very quiet the whole day, and you keep giving me weird looks. And your forehead's creasing in the middle again." With that he reached over and brushed her forehead calmly, smoothed the said-wrinkle, as if he did it every day.

A tingle went down her spine from his touch. She was stunned by his uncharacteristic behavior. What happened to the "I will never disrespect (touch) a lady without her permission" gentleman code of honor?

She found her cheeks were quite warm from his contact, so she ducked her head and tried to spoon some of her ice cream. She didn't feel like eating it, which was unusual since ice cream was one of her favorite treats. "I'm... nothing's wrong," she mumbled. After all, she couldn't just very well tell him what was bothering her. That was out of the question. Ah, how does one go about one's way trying to kiss their fiancé for the first time?

He rolled his eyes to the ceiling (again she would've found his comical, but right now... not the time) and pointed out dryly. "I think I can tell when you're happy and when you're not happy by now, Chiharu." When she bit her lip and looked down at her melted ice cream she heard him sigh and sensed him lean forward, trying to catch her eye. "Look, you can tell me. I'll listen." The firm, earnest tone in his voice made her glance up, and what she saw in his eyes startled her. There was honesty, concern, and a shine of care and... what was that? There was an emotion she couldn't recognize. She couldn't really tell, but she knew his eyes were not lying and that he really did care a lot for her. More than he usually showed.

If there was something wrong with her today then there was clearly something wrong with him. She'd never known Yamazaki to have so many emotional changes in one day!

His hand rose again and she blinked when he brushed back a stray lock of hair that escaped from its pigtail. His fingers grazed her cheek lightly and at the touch her body reacted suddenly. She started to incline forward, leaning more into the touch, and getting closer to him. She could see his dark, warm and caring eyes steadily nearing her, soon to be the only thing in her world. His dark hair wasn't kept in place as neatly as it usually was and there were some strands that fell in his eyes. She wanted to brush them away. She could feel the warmth coming from his breath and it made her a tad excited. All the time she was inching closer and closer, her eyelids growing heavier, until—

THUMP.

Her face met the table quite hard.

She never felt so stupid in her entire life.

"Chiharu," she heard Yamazaki's voice distantly from above her. She was in another world. The table smelled like wood and plastic. She wondered vaguely how wonderful life would be if she could stay in this position forever, never to lift her face (which would be a little red by now) again. However this was not her fate as hands were shaking her quite hard, forcing her to lift her head. Besides, her forehead was beginning to hurt.

"What," she mumbled, avoiding his eyes. No doubt he was wondering what had gotten into her. She'd admit she wasn't exactly acting herself today. But it wasn't like she'd tell him even if she wanted to. What little dignity she had left called for her to keep her mouth shut and just smile like nothing was wrong.

Of course, there was the small matter of Yamazaki seeing through her act.

He was saying something. She blinked. "Chiharu, do you feel all right?" he was saying. At least, that's what she thought he was saying. Her thoughts were confirmed when she felt a large, warm hand against her warmer forehead. Her eyes looked at him through bangs and she smiled a little. His expression was concerned for her, just like the sweet guy he was. Then she blinked again. He looked at her like he was waiting for her to answer.

"Er... what?" she asked stupidly. His hand had long since left her forehead but she could still feel the warmth of it lingering on her skin. It felt extremely warm, for some reason.

He was frowning slightly. "When was the last time you were sick?"

She blinked several times. "Uh... um... what?" Her mind was foggy and she found it harder and harder to think clearly. She was sick? Was this the result of her trying to kiss Yamazaki? Her vision started growing a little blurry as her lids became heavy like marbles. She could feel her forehead growing steadily warmer, as well as the rest of her body. Was this the cost of wanting something so special? Turn her into a human heater? Her thoughts were becoming more confused. But she wasn't plugged in or anything. Her head slowly dropped forward until she could feel the coolness of the wood/plastic table on her cheek. Was this her punishment for being... selfish?

She heard a sigh. "You've got a fever." The hand was back on her forehead, except this time it was cooler. It felt good. Fever? Her? No... "...Idiot." Affectionately. "You should've taken better care of yourself..." Yes, yes, she should've. But she was so engrossed in trying to plant a kiss on him that she barely thought of anything else. She could hazily feel strong arms lift and carry her securely. It felt quite... pleasant. Sighing, she unconsciously snuggled in those arms, wanting to get more comfortable.

The last thought that went through her mind before she fell asleep was, I will kiss him. It doesn't matter now... all I want is to feel it.

And then everything went dark.


The first thing she saw when she woke up was yellow. Bright yellow. Yellow flowers, she realized after a moment of clarity. To be exact, yellow Freesias. Her favorite flowers.

She wondered who gave them to her as she gazed at them admiringly. What happened? Why was she in bed? Her throat felt dry, so she looked around and saw a glass of water on the counter next to the bed. She reached for it, and noticed some "Get Well!" cards stacked neatly on the counter beside the flowers. Some of them were from her classmates. Then she remembered she was sick. Something about Yamazaki telling her she had a fever—

Yamazaki. Something rang a bell in her mind. She wanted to see him right now. She didn't know why, but suddenly she needed him near her...

As if on cue, her door opened, and in walked the tall, black-haired guy. She blinked. He was staring at her as if slightly surprised to see her. Then he smiled warmly and she smiled back, relief filling her like water. "I didn't know you were awake," he said lightly, walking toward her and sitting in a chair next to the bed. It looked like he sat there more than once. He probably came to visit her while she was asleep, she thought, a little touched.

She cleared her throat. "How... how long have I been sleeping?" she asked unevenly.

"Two years."

She stared at him. He stared back seriously at her, his mouth set in a tired line. He wasn't... it couldn't be... She took a closer look at his eyes—they were twinkling. She realized with a start he was joking. Again. Relief surged back into her as she feebly hit his arm. He was chuckling. She rolled her eyes and reluctantly smiled a little. "That wasn't funny, Yamazaki," she told him in a stern voice. But he knew she wasn't angry, and he smiled brightly at her.

He leaned back and said, "You've been asleep for three days." She gaped at him. He raised an eyebrow pointedly at her (again, it was funny, but she was too tired to laugh). "You haven't been taking care of yourself lately." Funny, that line seemed very familiar. She was going to retort that she could take good care of herself, but then decided not to. She was feeling rather low on energy and she knew he was right, though she wouldn't admit it.

So she settled on just shrugging and sitting up. She managed to do the first, but not the latter. Her arms were too weak to support herself. Yamazaki stood up and pushed her gently down, scolding her, "Hey, don't strain yourself. You're still recovering from that fever. You were more sick than the doctor thought." Though he didn't sound like it, she could sense his concern. When she rolled her eyes and was about to tell him not to worry, she glanced at him and saw concern and... frustration? Yes, he was frustrated. She blinked. What was bothering him?

He was tucking the blankets around her shoulders securely, much like when she was being carried back at the ice cream parlor. Did he carry her all the way to home? Knowing him, and being the sweet gentleman he was, he probably did.

Somehow, that thought made her feel happy. He's so kind...she thought, smiling softly.

Yamazaki was talking about how many people came to visit her and wish her good health while she was asleep, and just what her mother try to do when nursing her, and how he picked her the flowers, knowing how much she liked them. He was startled mid-sentence when a hand touched his own hand. He looked down and saw her smiling, though her eyes were closed. He stared at her, marveling at how beautiful she looked even when she was sick.

"...Thank you," she whispered, squeezing his hand slightly as a grateful gesture. He smiled down at her, holding her hand gently. Through a small crack in her eyelids she watched him sit still for a moment. Suddenly, he leaned forward until he was inches away from her face. Her breath stopped but she remained in her sleeping façade, instinct telling her to keep still. And wait. So she did.

For one moment she actually thought he was going to kiss her. He was in the right position, she was in the right position, the mood was right, everything was right... even the sunlight coming from the window was directed at them in just the right direction. The opportunity was in his grasp.

But, for some reason, he didn't move. She felt like bursting.

Finally, after what seemed like centuries (but really only a few seconds) she could see his figure leaning down just barely an inch, and then a little bit more. This is it, she thought giddily as she shut her eyes a little tighter. By now she could feel the warmth of his body close to hers and his breath lightly brushing her skin.

So Yamazaki didn't need prompting after all to take the initiative. She smiled dazedly.

"Chiharu?" Suddenly the door opened and her mother walked in.

Yamazaki moved incredibly fast and was sitting back in his chair as if he had not been mere inches away from her only seconds ago. She was both impressed and annoyed by this.

Luckily her mother didn't seem suspicious of anything. "Chiharu, honey, you're awake!" she exclaimed, smiling at her daughter who had "waken" upon her entrance. "I hope you're feeling better. Yamazaki here was so worried about you." She smiled warmly at her daughter's fiancé, who smiled politely back. Chiharu thought he looked a little strained. Then her mother turned back to her and noticed the empty cup on the counter. "Oh! I'll bring you some more water." As she walked towards it Yamazaki stood up. Chiharu's mother turned to him and blinked. "Oh, are you leaving already?"

Chiharu voiced the same opinion as her mother, only mentally and a lot more forcefully.

The dark-haired guy smiled quickly and said, "I have to go to a committee meeting. I'm sorry to leave so early." His eyes were not as bright and cheerful, she noticed, and there was clearly something bothering him. But he was careful not to show it to her mother. He turned to the girl in bed and smiled wider. "I hope you get better, Chiharu." He turned to leave.

She blinked. "Wait," she called out before she could stop herself. There was surprise and disappointment in her voice. Slowly, he turned around and looked at her. She saw him half-smile and his eyes turned warm, showing none of his earlier actions before her mother walked in.

"I'll come back tomorrow," he promised, and then left. She could only gaze at the door after him, a slight sigh leaving her lips.

(So close)

Her mother was watching her. Chiharu quickly looked up at her and tried not to blush. Hopefully she didn't reveal too much of her thoughts about her fiancé. The older woman observed her daughter closely, her eyebrow slightly arched. "So..." she began in an interested tone. Chiharu immediately braced herself. "Have you two kis—"

"No!" she blurted out, and then turned and buried her face in her pillow. "I'm kind of tired. I think I'll rest a little..." Her mother just smiled knowingly and left her daughter to the solitude of her room. The door closed. Chiharu squeezed her eyes shut and remembered how close he was to her when he was leaning down. What was he about to do? Was he going to kiss her? And if he was, then where? Perhaps... on the lips? She groaned and pulled her pillow over her head, trying not to think too much about it. It made her face turn red and her head spin dizzily.

It was official. 'Operation: Kiss Yamazaki' was now underway.


The next day Chiharu was feeling much better. The second she opened her eyes she sprung energetically out of bed and hurried to the bathroom, eager to wash up and start the day. The delightful feeling of walking again after four straight nights of being in bed made her lightheaded and giddy. She stumbled coming out of the bathroom as a sudden wave of dizziness attacked her.

Maybe a little too lightheaded.

No matter, she thought as she resumed her pace to the kitchen, nothing would stop her today.

Of course, when she remembered that Yamazaki was coming today she faltered mid-step, but after a few seconds she quickly picked up her pace. It was okay: she was just momentarily taken by surprise.

(Sure)

She wondered why the house was so quiet and why she hadn't seen her mother yet when she entered the silent kitchen. Her mother didn't leave the house before she left for school, and it was still early in the morning. She frowned and went over to the clock on the oven. 10:30 AM.

So her mother had already left for work. She wouldn't be back until late afternoon. And her father was on a business trip; not even he knew when he was coming back. That left Chiharu quite alone in the house. Not for the first time she wished her brothers hadn't gone off for college. Here she was alone in the house that used to be noisy with children's laughter and voices, and more than half her family was at least a city away.

The doorbell rang. She blinked. Was that Yamazaki? He was here already? With a sudden anxiety in her chest she went and looked out the window. It was Naoko.

Disregarding the sudden disappointment in her chest she opened the door and smiled at the dark brown-haired girl. "Hi Naoko," she greeted brightly.

"Hi!" The glasses-wearing girl smiled back. Then she eyed her with a critiqued eye and stated, "You've lost some weight, but you look better."

Chiharu laughed a little, embarrassed that indeed many people worried about her. "Yes, well, I feel much better." She opened the door wider. "Want to come in?"

The shorthaired girl shook her head with a grin. "I've got a ride waiting for me." She pointed her thumb over her shoulder where a fancy black sports car was waiting by the driveway. The tinted window rolled down and Kei Inasu's head appeared. He didn't look very pleased. Chiharu looked inquiringly at her friend, who was ignoring the guy's annoyed cries. Naoko shrugged her shoulders indifferently. "I sort of blackmailed him into giving me a ride here." Chiharu giggled. "Well, since you're looking better I guess I can tell everyone else not to worry. Sakura and Tomoyo wanted to come visit you, but they were too busy. And Eriol and Syaoran asked after you as well." Naoko grinned. "Chiharu, your boyfriend was literally dead without you. He didn't look like he'd been getting much sleep either." A honk came from one irritated class president. The brunette rolled her eyes and quickly hugged Chiharu. "I've got to go. Take care of yourself, will you?" With that she skipped down the driveway, yelling indignantly as the car started rolling slightly.

Chiharu smiled and waved them goodbye. Then she closed the door and locked it. She closed her eyes as she leaned against the door, feeling another dizzy attack coming.

"He didn't look like he'd been getting much sleep..."

Was Yamazaki that worried about her? He couldn't sleep because she was sick? She shook her head slightly, ignoring the slight dizziness (that did not come from the sudden burst of joy fluttering in her chest) and smiled slightly.

The doorbell rang again, startling her out of her reverie. She peeked out the window and almost jumped in excitement. It was Yamazaki. She took a deep breath to compose herself so as not to show him how eager she was to see him and quickly brushed her hair. Silently she moaned at her state of dress (yellow teddy bear pajamas) and then straightened out herself as best she could. Then she swept open the door. (All that in five seconds)

He blinked when he saw her, but quickly grinned and handed her a small bouquet of fresh yellow Freesias. "Lovely to see you up and about Miss Chiharu."

She took the flowers and buried her nose into it, breathing in the sweet fragrance. "Why, thank you, Sir." Since she was feeling better and back to her old self she decided to extend the good humor a little further. "But I'm afraid I can't take this bouquet to heart. You see, my boyfriend might get angry." She smiled sweetly and batted her eyelashes coyly up at him.

He took it all in stride, being the jokester he was. "Yes, I can understand that. My own girlfriend might be a little miffed at me." She stifled gasp when he took her hands, bouquet and all, a serious expression of passion on his face. "But we can forget all of that. We can run away and nobody will ever know. Come with me, Chiharu, and we can live happily together... just you and me... forever."

He looked at her with such an earnest expression that she couldn't help the laughter bubbling out of her. She tugged her hands, but he didn't let go of her. "All right, Yamazaki, you win," she yielded smilingly.

"You mean you'll run away with me?" He grinned mischievously as she pulled out her hands to swat his arm. He looked so happy, she thought. Naoko's words came unbidden into her mind again. He didn't seem too dead...

"Come in already," she said, rolling her eyes as he mocked shock at her invitation. She noticed he was holding a plastic bag. "What is that?" she asked, pointing to it. He glanced at it then shot a mysterious grin at her.

"It's a secret," he told her, holding one finger up. She blinked and then shook her head. Yamazaki could be so...so... attractive. She blushed. Where did that thought come from?

She walked into the kitchen. "So, I'm assuming you came here for a reason other than to keep me company," she stated over her shoulder. He was placing the "secret" bag on the table and shedding his jacket on the chair.

"Well, I didn't know you disliked my company that much," he replied, pouting. She rolled her eyes again and opened the refrigerator, searching for something to eat.

"You know what I mean," she answered firmly, shuffling through the drawers despite the cold of the fridge. She glanced at him over her shoulder where he was leaning on the counter, watching her. "Mom knew you were going to come and she left this morning without seeing me. So she obviously trusted you to 'look after me'." She straightened and looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Am I right?"

He grinned disarmingly and spread his hands. "You've got us all figured out."

Her eyes narrowed slightly. "Well, then, you know that I know that you know that I don't like being 'looked after' and can take care of myself perfectly well now that I'm feeling better... right?"

The dark-haired guy merely grinned wider. "Once again, right in one, Chiharu."

She crossed her arms in a 'Don't-Mess-With-Me' pose and stated, "Then you know perfectly well that I don't need you to baby-sit me today, right?" There was slight steel in her voice that warned him not to cross her.

He disregarded it, of course. His eyes twinkled as he bowed slightly. "My, my, you're on a roll today, aren't you, Chiharu?"

"Yamazaki..."

He held his hands up in a placating manner. "Right, right, you're absolutely right." He huffed out shortly and chuckled. Then he raised his hands behind his head and raised an eyebrow at her. "Hey, Chiharu?"

The redhead had gone back to exploring the refrigerator. "Yeah?" she replied, her voice muffled a little. She was secretly glad that Yamazaki hadn't put up much resistance to her demands, though she was also a tiny bit disappointed that he had complied so easily. (Such is a girl's nature)

"You know that I know that you know that I know that I don't need to baby-sit you. Right?" he said casually. She blinked as she digested his words and then frowned, turning around slowly. What was he going on about? He tilted his head slightly at her, a slight grin on his lips. "But you know that I know that I want to look after you today. Right?" He paused only a little before going on. "Then you know that I won't quite leave you alone today. And that I will baby-sit you when I feel it's necessary... right?" (Translation: I'm baby-sitting you.)

Chiharu blinked at him, slightly flustered and frustrated. So much for him complying so easily. She should have known he wouldn't just agree. "Well... Yamazaki... you... you can't just do that! I'm perfectly fine!" She drew herself up to her full height and glared. "And I won't let you."

(Translation: Cross me and die.)

Before she knew it he merely stepped swiftly toward her until he was directly in front of her. She blinked but continued to glare up at him, challenging him to try and dare go against her wishes. "You better not physically force me—you can't touch me—" she broke off when he calmly leaned forward and then in a movement too quick for her brain to register he had held her arms behind her back in a disarming but gentle position and was leading (or forcing) her out the kitchen and up the stairs. All of this before her mind could even comprehend what was happening.

Struggling, she glared at him over her shoulder, frustrated beyond belief. "What you just did was not very gentlemanly, Yamazaki," she said through gritted teeth. She didn't care that she was trying to make him feel guilty because that was a good thing. Here he was touching her and man-handling her without her permission, when any other time she would've had to practically force him to even lay a finger on her!

However, he only smiled that casual Yamazaki Smile and answered, "I wouldn't be a gentleman if I'd just left you to do what you wanted, especially when you're not taking good care of yourself."

She merely shot back, "I am taking good care of myself!" She twisted her shoulder a little, but his grip didn't budge. She seethed.

He simply said, "Not good enough. Now move up." He motioned ahead to the stairs. She paused stubbornly, waiting to see how good her chances of breaking away was. He was obviously stronger than her so she didn't bother struggling (she didn't want to lose her dignity by trying and failing to get out of his grasp). And she was already feeling quite weak and lightheaded. She had no choice but follow him, albeit very reluctantly.

(He is so dead)

He marched her into the bathroom and then released her, standing in the doorway like a guard to block any escape. He smiled at her red face hot from anger (but most likely due to embarrassment and the close proximity he was to her). "Now," he said, "take a bath, shower, make yourself rejuvenated, do all that girl stuff you do, and then you can eat."

She glared at him, knowing she was in a hopeless situation. "What? You're going to hand-feed me now?" He paused but she didn't let him answer. "What if I don't take a shower?" she bit out defiantly, her chin raised. Would he let her starve then? He turned so they could meet eye-to-eye.

The look on his face almost made her blanch. Almost.

He smiled, but she thought it was more like a smirk. "Then we'll be staying here for quite a while, won't we?"

(Translation: I don't mind. At all.)

Chiharu glared. He smiled. She glared harder. He smiled... harder.

Finally, she relented. "Fine," she snapped. He smiled in triumph and backed out the door, closing it. Unable to resist having the last word, she yelled, "But that's it, Yamazaki!" at the closed door.

"Na ah ah," his voice came from behind the door. "Remember, Chiharu, I'm your babysitter for today." She swore she could hear him smirk. He walked away, whistling.

She never wanted so much to bash his head with a frying pan and then kiss him at the same time as she did now.

(Translation: She wanted him bad.)


When she came back downstairs, drying her wet hair with a towel and dressed in comfortable sweats, she could see Yamazaki working busily at the stovetop where a couple ports were steaming. He had rolled up his sleeves and put on an apron. When she walked toward him, he turned to beam at her, giving a good view of her mother's white-frilled orange apron with a peach stitched onto the chest pocket. She stifled a giggle and turned to look at the pots. "Hey, you look much cleaner now," her ever-observant boyfriend told her.

She rolled her eyes. "Do I? I only just took a shower, as you should know since you were the one who forced me into it." Her voice was a tad sarcastic.

He laughed, tapping a finger on her nose. "Yes, but you should sound more grateful. Don't you feel better now that you've rejuvenated yourself?" He gave her a knowing smile, so she didn't bother answering. Instead, she took the lid off one of the pots. She blinked. Yamazaki watched her with a smile.

"Yup, I'm making curry and rice. Your favorite, right?" He picked up a wooden ladle and stirred the golden curry in the bigger pot.

Chiharu blinked again. "Yeah," she said, a little surprised that he remembered what her favorite food was. Of course, she'd told him several times that she liked curry and rice, but she didn't really expect him to remember it and store it as actual information. It was very... thoughtful of him. "Yeah." She smiled quietly to herself as she watched him cheerfully make the meal, distant memories coming back to her.

"Come on, Chiharu, it was only a joke! Have some fun!" 9-year-old Takashi Yamazaki pleaded with an angry redhead, his expression sorrowful but just a little exaggerated. Chiharu didn't see this, fortunately, as she was too angry to look at him.

"No! It was a mean joke! I'm not going to talk to you ever!" She girl was close to tears. She marched haughtily away from him just as her mother appeared at the door.

"Honey, why do I hear yelling?" Her mother asked sternly, casting a glance over a spitfire angry daughter and a sheepish Yamazaki trailing behind.

Chiharu had held back her tears gallantly from the entire time she walked home, but upon the sight of her mother she began to sniffle. "M-Mommy, he," at this she jerked a finger at the boy behind her, who looked away, "he played a mean, dirty trick on me! He made me look un...un...digfy in front of the whole class!" She began crying in earnest now, memories of the "trick" coming back to her in embarrassing flashes.

"Yamazaki, did you play a mean, dirty trick on my daughter?" Her mother demanded, her hands on her hips. He peeked a glance at her and blinked when he caught a playful sparkle in the woman's eyes. He instantly understood.

Bowing his head and toeing the dirt he confessed in an ashamed tone, "Yes, Ma'am. I played a mean, dirty trick on your daughter."

The redhead sniffed and crossed her arms. "Make him say sorry!" she told her mother.

Her mother mock-frowned at the young Yamazaki. "Say sorry to my daughter, Yamazaki."

He grinned just a little as he said, "I'm sorry, Chiharu." The girl glanced over her shoulder just in time to see him with a serious look on his face. She was immediately appeased, though she didn't show it. She merely 'humphed' and tossed her head. He blinked.

Her mother winked at the confused Yamazaki and announced, "I made some curry and rice for you two to eat. But since Chiharu is too angry to eat with you I guess we can't eat it..."

Chiharu's head lifted. Yamazaki heard (or sensed) a great change come over her. He was shocked when she whirled around and grabbed his hand. She was smiling at him like there was no wrong in the world. He liked when she smiled like that because it looked like a sunrise had lit on her pretty face. He smiled back at her. "Come on, Yamazaki! Let's eat curry and rice!" she exclaimed excitedly. He was jerked along as she ran into the house.

He was still a little confused at the redhead's speedy forgiveness as they sat down to eat the golden curry. Chiharu was eating it very quickly and with much delight. "You like curry?" he asked curiously and a little cautiously. She didn't look up or stop eating but nodded.

"Chiharu's favorite food in the whole wide world is curry and rice," her mother's voice came from behind him. He turned to look at her. The woman smiled warmly. "She will do anything for it, even forgive people who played bad, dirty tricks on her." They shared a smile, oblivious of Chiharu's blatant staring. But she shrugged and continued eating her beloved curry. What harm was it if Yamazaki knew her favorite food? It was better because when they were older and he was her boyfriend he could make her the curry. That, she decided, was what a boyfriend should always do.

When she told her mother that later her mother laughed.

Chiharu smiled slightly, remembering how from that moment on Yamazaki would always let her eat first if there was curry present. She'd forgotten that he knew her favorite food, but apparently he hadn't forgotten.

"Here, Chiharu, my mom packed curry for lunch."

"Oh, wow! Thanks Yamazaki!"

"Chiharu, here," came Yamazaki's voice, and suddenly there was a ladle full of steaming, golden curry in front of her nose. She jerked back in surprise, but the ladle kept coming and she glanced at Yamazaki. He had a slight smile on his face as he waited for her to take a sample from the ladle. She laughed a little and moved forward to taste it, just as Yamazaki moved the ladle towards her. Due to bad timing, it ended up smearing her nose and mouth.

They blinked and then looked at each other. Chiharu burst out laughing, and Yamazaki soon followed. "Sorry," he said, still chuckling. He watched her wiping her nose and mouth with a napkin.

She smiled at him, joking, "I like curry but not that much."

He smiled back, and suddenly his hand rose to touch the corner of her mouth. "You missed a spot," he told her quietly. His thumb stroked her cheek gently and there was that unidentifiable look in his eyes again. Her eyes met his and an infinite sort of pause stretched out. A connection—an unmistakable connection.

His head drew closer and she felt herself moving forward as well. Her breath slowed down until it was a bare minimum. The only thing she could hear was the pounding of her heart. It was so loud that she was sure he could hear it.

I guess... this is it...

They were only inches away now. She could see his warm dark-brown eyes staring into hers and then flickering down to her mouth. Barely an inch... his hands had somehow found her neck... a centimeter... she could feel the closeness of his lips to hers... her eyes finally closed…

And the door opened.

It was Chiharu's father.

Her eyes had flown open at the sound of the door swinging open; his hands and warm breath disappeared and Yamazaki was already facing the stove stirring the curry as if nothing had happened. Chiharu, for some reason, felt really irritated at his ability to move so fast.

"I'm home!" her father called out.

"Daddy!" she greeted her father with genuine delight as he walked into the kitchen carrying his suitcase. He laughed as she wrapped her arms around him tightly. He hugged her back, putting his suitcase down.

"Hello, My-Hara," he said affectionately, kissing her head. His warm brown eyes looked her over critically as he remarked, "My, you've grown taller since the last time I saw you!" She laughed since the last time he'd seen her was last week.

Yamazaki had taken off the manly apron and was waiting at a respectfully distance. When Chiharu's father turned to him, the dark-haired boy bowed, greeting politely, "Welcome back, Sir." However, Chiharu's father was not in the mood for formalities and surprised the younger man with an open, father-son hug.

Chiharu smiled happily as her father and Yamazaki chatted like old friends. They were her two favorite men in the world and there was nothing she wouldn't do for either of them. Her gaze found the tall, dark-haired guy who was laughing at one of her father's jokes.

A part of her still felt dizzy from the near kiss that had happened only moments ago. Another part of her felt disappointed that her father had to come in right at that untimely moment. And yet another part of her felt doubly determined that she would get that kiss from Yamazaki. They were so close. She could feel it.

Mission: Kiss was still on.

But first she would eat some curry.


Chiharu sighed as she looked at the mirror, thinking back on the phone conversation she'd had only the night before.

"What? But... Naoko—"

"No 'buts'!" her friend interrupted from the other end of the line. "I'm sorry you weren't there when we decided, but the cheerleading pictures are tomorrow and the dress code can't change now."

Chiharu tried not to groan. "All right, all right. Fine. What do we have to wear again?"

"Black mini-skirt is preferable, but if you have cut-off black shorts those are okay too. And the tank tops that we wear for special games... you know, the red and white sparkly ones? That too." Naoko paused as she thought about something. "And it wouldn't hurt if you tied your hair into a ponytail..."

Chiharu's eyes widened. "Oh no, not my hair. Wear a black mini-skirt; fine. But nothing's touching my hair!"

A laugh. "No, I was just kidding, Chiharu." Naoko quickly sobered. "I didn't really agree with the dress code either. But you know how the captain gets once she's got her mind set on something. She looked ready to kill anyone who said 'no'." She shrugged. "Again, sorry, but we're just going to have to suffer all the same."

Chiharu winced and then sighed. "Yeah. Well, I guess I'd better get the clothes ready then."

"Remember to wear them to school."

"What!"

Naoko sighed. "Yeah. Captain's idea. It's supposed to promote 'school spirit.'" Her voice was undeniably dry, almost resembling that of the class president's. "She said we wear the outfits to school or we'll be punished."

Chiharu wanted cry. "I just got over my fever and now... this?"

Naoko was sympathetic, but not very much because she was subjected under the same torture herself. "Hey, at least you get to dress all sexy for Yamazaki to see."

"Naoko!"

Chiharu blushed as she stared at the mirror, not seeing herself but a vision of her dressing 'sexy' for Yamazaki. Naoko was so mean. She knew how much she liked Yamazaki (in fact, the whole school did) but she still had the gall to tease her about it. It wasn't as if Chiharu teased her about Kei Inasu.

"I can't believe this," she muttered to herself as she held the black sports shorts in front of her. She normally wore it on hot days inside the house where nobody but her family could see her. However, since she didn't have a black mini-skirt, she would have to break out the "Wear-Inside-House-And-In-Front-Of-Family-Only" shorts.

She slipped them on. Then she wondered if she should just change into long pants and face the wrath of the very scary cheerleading captain. It couldn't be that scary. Anything was better than wearing this to school.

But then... An image of Yamazaki flashed in her head, and she changed her mind.

That's right, I have to get him to kiss me. And since none of the other ways have worked yet... I'll have to seduce him. Chiharu nodded resolutely to herself, clenching her fist in determination. Then she blushed at the very blunt and scandalous tactic. Oh well. It doesn't matter whether it's scandalous or not. I have no choice in the matter. And that's that.

She consoled herself with that fact as she put on her tank top, fixed her auburn hair into her customary pigtails, and checked the weather outside. As she got ready to bounce out the door, her determination suddenly failed her and she found herself leaning against her door heavily.

"I can't do this," she muttered to herself. She looked down at her bare legs in despair. Maybe I can stay home and say that I'm not feeling well. She thought about it for a moment, then sighed and waved it away. Naoko wouldn't fall for it.

"Chiharu."

She blinked. Funny, that almost sounded like Yamazaki. She thought she had only imagined it.

A knock on the door dispelled that thought immediately. "Chiharu." Definitely Yamazaki.

She quickly opened the door and saw the tall dark-haired guy about to knock again. "Hm, a little late are—" he stopped mid-sentence and stared at her.

She stared back at him, wondering why he was suddenly so quiet. Then she remembered what she was wearing and immediately her body temperature rose by a few degrees. "E-er, hey... Yamazaki." Her greeting was embarrassed and she tried not to blush as he continued to stare at her. "Um... Yamazaki?" She bit her lip and waved a hand in front of his eyes. He blinked a couple times and broke out of his trance.

"Ah, sorry about that..." he apologized hesitantly. She looked closely at him and felt something jump inside of her when she saw a tiny bit of red in his cheeks. Perhaps wearing these clothes were the way to go. (Thank you Naoko). He smiled his trademark grin and tilted his head. "Come on, we should get going. Don't want to be late for school, do we?" His voice was smooth as he turned to go. Chiharu was almost disappointed, but she quickly cheered up and grabbed her stuff, quickly following him.

His words might not seem too interested, but he had been staring an awful lot. That alone was a sign of hope.

"Well then," he said with his close-eyed grin. He gestured toward the door courteously, "Shall we?" Any hint of earlier redness had completely disappeared. Chiharu tried not to sigh with disappointment.

Then again, maybe she wasn't that great to look at in the first place. That could always be the problem, she mused.


Humans, Chiharu had learned, were not animals. They did not have mere instincts to act upon. They didn't tear into their foods like a savage beast (most of the time). And they most certainly did not think like animals. Humans, in a sense, were intelligent beings.

High school boys, however, were a totally different species.

Testosterone, Chiharu also learned, was like the instinctive drive that animals acted upon—only, it was the high school males that acted upon it. She had seen it often enough when her brother's were at home. In Tomoeda High there were a respectable amount of well-mannered, nice and gentlemanly males that didn't think only of a guy's ego and girl's assets. But only a respectable amount. The vast majority of the males were purely hogs with testosterone.

This Chiharu experienced in only a matter of seconds. The minute she and Yamazaki entered school campus she could sense the excitement and tension in the air—it was her women's intuition that helped her sense it. The other females seem to know it too and were acting accordingly: some (only a few) acknowledged it and simply ignored it, most acknowledged it and expressed disgust and derision when they saw the strange gleam in their counterparts' eyes, and the remaining used this new atmosphere to their advantage and flirted shamelessly with every male they set eyes upon.

The cheerleading team obviously had everything to do with it, Chiharu thought resignedly. Indeed, she could see most of the team standing in a cluster near the entrance doors, chatting and giggling animatedly. Almost every male's eyes were centered on them and their new outfits.

This could all end very badly, she thought glumly, seeing some girls shoot the cheerleaders jealous glances. No doubt the day would be full of perverted guys trying to make moves and generally making fools out of themselves. But it wasn't just the guys that had perverted intentions. The captain obviously has some lust issues herself. It was her fault this was happening.

And the most disconcerting thing was... that Yamazaki didn't even notice anything was off.

He's either very dense, she thought tensely, or there's something about my fiancé that I didn't know before... and that he's got some issues as well.

And judging from the way he was staring at her this morning, she was certain that he was NOT dense in the least. That left one answer.

Yamazaki is a testosterone-driven male too.

Chiharu honestly couldn't decide whether this was a good thing or a bad thing.


By the time it was lunch, five boys attempted to talk to her, most of whom she'd never met in her entire high school life. And she was still counting. Luckily, or unluckily, they didn't know she had an over-protective bodyguard by the name of Takashi Yamazaki. In other words, they had no idea she was taken. But her bodyguard made sure they knew. Oh he made extra sure they would know for the rest of the day.

However the only thing good that was coming out of today was Yamazaki's over-protectiveness. Chiharu seriously regretted coming to school at all.

But it's not that bad, she thought as she watched a baffled Naoko question a dazed Kei why he was acting so strange. Nearby Sakura was oblivious as Syaoran stared unblinkingly at her from another table, his friends sneaking food from his forgotten lunch. Tomoyo had somehow managed to bring her video camera today and Eriol was cheerfully commentating on the riot going on today. Chiharu smiled a little. That's another good thing. Real romance is in the air.

Too bad it wasn't the same for her and Yamazaki, who was almost glowering at any guy that looked at her wrong. She sighed and wrapped the jacket Yamazaki told her to wear tighter around her shoulders, feeling a slight breeze coming in. Suddenly, she felt her boyfriend tense and a shadow appeared from behind her.

"Excuse me? Miss Mihara?" She turned around and blinked upon seeing the class secretary and Committee Head of the Winter Festival. He was looking down at her with a weird expression, almost like he wasn't exactly looking at her. He seemed to be preoccupied with another part of her. Her eyes immediately narrowed. Pervert. "Ahem, I'm sorry to disturb you, but there is something important I must speak to you about after school. About the profits you made from the festival."

He didn't seem to be suggesting anything else, and she realized he made sense because she hadn't heard anything about how much money she made from the festival. She nodded casually, replying, "Okay. That's fine with me."

His eyes flashed, but she didn't notice. "That's great. I'll see you in room F-3 after school." With that he turned and walked away. She looked after him cryptically and then turned to face her lunch. Suddenly she remembered who was sitting next to her and she saw Yamazaki turned all the way around in his seat, glaring daggers in the direction the Committee Head had gone. She sweatdropped.

"Yamazaki?" She gasped when he turned his intense eyes on hers, grabbing her wrist.

"Don't meet him after school." She blinked at this.

"Why?" Surely he couldn't be... jealous? Or paranoid.

"Because we were going to the movies."

They were not. OK, definitely jealous. His grip tightened. Maybe even paranoid.

She decided to be gentle on him. "Yamazaki, it's only going to take a minute or so. And we're just going to talk about the festival. What can possibly happen?"

He still glowered. "Fine, I suppose so." She stifled a smile, amazed by how different he was acting. Perhaps this jealousy thing was working. "But only a minute."

She rolled her eyes. "It'll take at least two minutes to walk up to F-3, Yamazaki. I'll be only ten minutes. No more than that." She could see the protest in his eyes and she gave him her most puppy face look. He blinked and his protest died. It worked.

The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. As they got up she was surprised when Yamazaki took her elbow, a serious look on his face. "I'll be waiting for you. But only ten minutes. No more than that." The look on his face told her that he wouldn't just stay put when those ten minutes were over. She sighed.

"All right. Don't worry about it."


The cheerleading pictures were done and over with in less than a minute. Chiharu was annoyed that she had to endure the whole day with over-excited boys just to pose for several flashes. A couple of her fellow cheerleaders were of the same sentiment. But at least the pictures were finally over with.

Honestly, Yamazaki was overreacting. When Chiharu went up to F-3 after school ended, he was practically grabbing onto her arm to keep her from going. He was like a dog not wanting to part with its owner. But she reasoned that she would only be gone for ten minutes—he wouldn't even notice (though she doubted it). When she finally got him to go to computer club, she wondered if this new side of Yamazaki was such a good thing after all.

The Committee Head wasn't in the room when she got there, but he entered shortly after as she was looking at some posters on the wall. She observed him critically. He was a little out of breath and was holding a manila folder. It must have been the festival information.

He greeted her normally enough, and she noticed he barely glanced at her. They went through the festival profits and she was pleasantly surprised to see that she'd made a lot of money compared to other committees.

It was about eight minutes when they finished. She was pleased with the timing, because now she had exactly two minutes to spare for walking back to the computer room. Yamazaki, she thought, was wrong. She hadn't been in any danger at all. Honestly, why was he so paranoid?

She bid the guy goodbye and turned to leave the room. He said wait. She paused and turned her head curiously. The expression on his face—the same one at lunch, only a lot more intense—made her suddenly panic and doubt started overwhelming her.

"I heard you have a fiancé… Takashi Yamazaki?"

She frowned uncertainly. "Yes, I do." She lifted her head higher. "Why?" Idiot, she told herself as he stepped closer to her. She should've just ignored him and left.

"Don't you ever wonder how it's like to be free?" He continued walking toward her, his gaze steady on her. "I heard he was your fiancé since you were little. You didn't have much of a choice, did you?" He was only a couple steps away from her and she told herself to move, bolt, dash out of the room while she could. She screamed at her feet, but they wouldn't move. She was frozen in panic. "I could give you a choice. Don't you want to know how it feels to be with another man?"

Suddenly he had her pinned to the wall, his action so abrupt she didn't have time to think. He was strong—not as strong as Yamazaki—but stronger than her. She couldn't move. There was no way to escape.

One minute left.

His face was too close to hers and she shut her eyes tightly, turning her head away from him. This couldn't happen to her. Not like this. Not when she hadn't even gotten her first

kiss. Not when... Yamazaki didn't even kiss her.

Yamazaki. She felt his breath and she clenched her fists. Thirty seconds. She could see Yamazaki smiling at her, his eyes always a warm dark brown whenever he looked at her. The way he always made her smile, laugh, or even swat his head while doing both. She loved him so much.

Yamazaki... I... Vaguely she heard footsteps, but didn't really register them.

... I'm... Closer.

Sorry.

BANG.

She jumped as the door crashed open and she saw the angry, worried Yamazaki. His dark-brown eyes instantly turned cold and heavy with anger, and in a blur of movement, Chiharu was free from the weight of the guy who'd tried to... she shuddered momentarily as the reality of what almost happened struck her. Yamazaki, who had knocked the guy out with a punch, looked up and saw her eyes. His hard eyes immediately softened and he went over to her, reaching a hand out.

She felt his warm hand touching her face and she felt her shudders disappear. He smiled at her gently, almost tenderly, and placed his other hand on her shoulder. "You all right?"

She nodded, relief swamping her. Yamazaki's here. He saved me. I... She suddenly realized she hadn't kissed him yet. But now, after what almost just happened, she knew she had to kiss him. Fast. Before anything else happened. It was so desperately needed that she felt crazy. "Yamazaki," she heard herself say as she leaned forward slightly. He gazed at her with eyes that were a lot darker than usual. She felt a tingle run down her spine as his grip tightened on her, drawing her closer to him.

"...Yeah," he said softly, his eyes moving around her face. She felt her eyes fluttering as they got closer, and her arms moved around his neck almost on their own accord.

"I..." Her eyelids felt heavy, so she closed them. "I want... to..." Say it, just say it already. "I..." His hand moved to her lower back firmly. She felt excited that he was finally responding in the way she wanted him to. Finally, she would get to kiss him... get to feel like the heroine in one of those cheesy romance novels. Everything her mind wanted to say flew out of her head and she simply concentrated on bringing her lips closer to his.

Suddenly, he froze. She felt him take a deep breath, his fingers tracing her face in one swipe, and then move away. She opened her eyes in confusion, wondering what was going on. He was muttering something under his breath, to her astonishment, and he didn't seem very happy. Did he not want to kiss her? Maybe he realized he wasn't ready yet. Or maybe... suddenly, she wanted to scream. She wanted hit him, kick him, bash his head with a frying pan, kiss him... she just couldn't take it anymore. Why could she not kiss Yamazaki?

Abruptly, she freed herself from his arms and marched out of the room, ignoring her fiancé's startled questions asking if she was all right. That made her even angrier, and she stomped harder down the stairs, holding her nose in the air. Enough is enough. She wasn't going to go around formulating any more stupid plans and tactics just to kiss him. She would just have to take matters into her own hands.

So he wouldn't kiss her? He didn't want to kiss her?

It was time Chiharu stop fooling around and got down to business.


The next morning Chiharu arrived at Yamazaki's house very early and dragged him to school, barely giving him time to dress and drink a glass of juice. He had no idea why she had forced him to go to school so early in the morning, but he decided to ask her later when the determined, intense, almost crazy aura around her was not so strong.

He found himself in the empty first period classroom, with the teacher off getting coffee in the teacher's lounge. Blinking the morning daze away, he saw the redhead standing in the middle of the classroom with her hands on her hips and a lethal glare on her pretty face. He thought she looked quite hot, despite the fact she might be ready to erupt into violence any moment.

What she did next made him blink again. And again.

She was rolling up her sleeves, her gaze quite steady on him. It made him quite nervous, to say the least. He saw her grab a table. A wild thought entered his mind. She really is going to kill me. But she only moved the table aside. Now there was nothing between them. He was still staring at her, confused by her actions and the haze of the early morning.

Steadily, like a cat about to approach a mouse, she moved toward him, her gaze not once moving from his. He gulped and glanced around the room, searching for something, anything, that might save him from whatever was going to happen.

"Chiharu?" She ignored him, now only a foot away from him. It was almost ridiculous, how a girl shorter and slimmer than him was making him sweat and tremble like crazy. "Uh..."

"Shh," she pressed a finger on his parted lips, making him freeze. Cold sweat broke out on his face. Who is this person? This isn't Chiharu. He stared wide-eyed down at her as she moved even closer, her finger still on his lips. There was an odd light in her eyes. Again, determination. Just what exactly she was determined to do he didn't know. But he was going to find out very soon.

"Do you see my face?"

He nodded dumbly. Oh yes, he could see her face quite clearly. But what did that have to do with anything?

"What does it tell you?" She had removed her finger from his lips and he was surprised to feel disappointed.

He blinked. "What, your face?"

She nodded patiently.

"Uh... you're... not happy?" What happened to his previously claimed thorough knowledge of her moods? She apparently was thinking the same thing.

She sighed. "No, Yamazaki read my face. What does it tell you?"

He tried again, this time actually looking at her. Her face was the same; only there was a slight red tint in her cheeks. He looked at her eyes and did a double take. There was something different about them... they were telling him something. But he couldn't exactly understand... Then realization clicked and his eyes flashed. Chiharu smiled a little, relieved.

"I get it!" He said, a little dumbfounded. "But Chiharu..." He saw her relief turn into tense, self-consciousness. He tilted his head. "Why did you drag me here to tell me you're hungry? My mom would've made curry."

She almost hit the floor at his denseness. Why is this happening to me? She groaned and shut her eyes, clutching her head in despair. "Yamazaki you're hopeless."

He blinked, very confused. "Why? What did I do?"

She snapped her eyes open and waved her hands in frustration. "Everything! You just... everything!" She stopped and let her arms drop motionlessly. He blinked in amazement and leaned closer, trying to get a better look at her face. She seemed void of emotion. "Yamazaki."

He stopped. She looked up at him, eyes resolute, and took a quick step toward him. She was extremely close now. "Yamazaki... I..." She sighed shortly and glanced away. But only for a short second, because suddenly she turned back to him and her face was less than an inch away from his face. His eyes crossed out of focus at the close proximity, but before he could move or say anything, she placed her hands on either side of his face and pressed her lips to his.

He made a strangled sound, and then went still.

His lips feel... warm. And soft. She smiled slightly, and he twitched once.

Then, after ten seconds or so (or was it more?) she pulled away slowly. He was still dazed and his eyes stared vacantly at a spot above her head. She waved a hand in front of his eyes, and then smirked as there was no reply. With a small "hm", she turned and strode triumphantly out of the room, leaving behind her speechless boyfriend.

Seconds, minutes ticked by, and finally the bell rang. Still, Yamazaki did not move from is dazed standing position. He didn't even notice his classmates start to file in.

"Yo, Yamazaki!"

He would definitely have to talk to Chiharu in private later.

END


A/N: I think Chiharu and Yamazaki are the cutest couple ever. Well, I apologize for whatever OOC-ness I subjected some people here to... And it's so freaking long! I sort of went crazy with the romance and potential kisses. But it's done, and I'm finished and everything's wonderful.

Thank you for reading!